Traditional wood and coal-burning fireplaces require a significant amount of effort to install, set up, fuel, and maintain. Electric fireplaces, on the other hand, require very little in your home to get set up and running as soon as possible.
In short, all you need for an electric fireplace is:
- A nearby available mains electric supply such as a wall plug socket with a sufficient electric output
- A suitable position for the fireplace
And, what you don’t need for an electric fireplace is:
- A chimney or flue
- A vent
We have explained these requirements in more detail below.
What You Need For an Electric Fireplace
One of the biggest benefits of electric fireplaces is that they use a much more simplified process to heat your home compared to traditional fireplaces. With most models of electric fireplaces, the set-up is pretty much instantaneous.
Once you have set up the fireplace, there is very little maintenance required to keep it running. Because of this, there are only two things that you need in your home for your new electric fireplace; an available source of electricity with enough supply to power the heater, and a suitable place in your home to install the fireplace safely.
Source of Electricity
In order to produce the flame effect and power its heater, you will need to plug your electric fireplace into your home’s source of mains electricity. The power source must be able to supply enough electricity for the fireplace to operate.
Before deciding which fireplace to purchase and where you wish to place it in your home, determine the following:
As your electric fireplace needs to be plugged into your mains supply directly, you need to make sure that the power cable supplied with your chosen model will be long enough to reach the appropriate power source.
Manufacturers of electrical appliances, particularly those of electric fireplaces, emphatically state that you should never plug an electric fireplace into any form of an extension cable, timer plug, or surge protector. Electric fireplaces should only be installed directly into a wall socket or wired into your home’s mains supply.
Electric Socket or Mains Supply
You will need an electric wall socket nearby to where you wish to install the fireplace, or, you have a mains power cable that you can wire the fireplace insert directly into.
To be exact, most electric fireplaces typically require a standard 3-prong grounded 120-volt outlet. All you need to do is plug in the fireplace and it will be ready to use instantly. If you’re going down the route of hardwiring the fireplace, it’s better to have this carried out by a certified electrician. You don’t need a permit for either mode of installation.
Where to Install the Fireplace
In addition to being close enough to a power source, there are other aspects you need to consider when choosing where to install your electric fireplace. They require well-ventilated spaces that have room for the warm air from the heater to circulate. Placing the fireplace somewhere that doesn’t meet these requirements may cause your fireplace to overheat, putting you and your home at risk.
Make sure that the location for your new electric fireplace meets these requirements:
- There is plenty of space around all sides of the fireplace for air circulation
- It isn’t confined, e.g. in a cupboard or extremely small room
- It has a flat, level floor
- It doesn’t contain a long pile carpet near the location of the fireplace
- The room doesn’t have a high moisture content, e.g. in a bathroom
To give some context on how electric fireplaces work, they function very similarly to standard space heaters. The fireplace uses a fan to take in air and heats up the air using its heater. It then uses its fan to expel and circulate the warm air back into the room, heating the room up. For this process to work most effectively, the room must be well ventilated and it must have enough space for the air to circulate.
It’s also important that you take into account where the heater on the electric fireplace is located; many freestanding models have a heater on the bottom, which is where it intakes air from the room. Therefore, the fireplace must be placed somewhere that the heater won’t be blocked from the front or behind.
What You Don’t Need For an Electric Fireplace
As electric fireplaces only require the aforementioned elements in your home, you won’t need many of the typical elements required for traditional fireplaces. With electric fireplaces, there is no real flame and no need for a supply of oxygen or solid fuel. This means that you don’t require a flue, nor do you need a chimney or vent for your new fireplace.
Chimney or Flue
With traditional fireplaces, a chimney or flue is essential to channel out the waste gases that these fireplaces produce as a byproduct of burning fuel. Open fireplaces and woodburning stoves use solid fuel such as wood or coal to produce a real flame, in turn generating heat. As a result, these fireplaces produce smoke, also releasing gases harmful to health such as carbon monoxide. A chimney or flue is therefore necessary to make sure these gases don’t accumulate in your home.
Electric fireplaces do not require a chimney or flue as they don’t produce smoke or gases in this way. They run on electricity, using a process that doesn’t release any harmful byproducts as traditionally-fueled fireplaces do. This means you don’t need a chimney or flue, nor do you need to install the electric fireplace into a space where there is an existing fireplace.
Another requirement of traditional fireplaces is to have a vent that supplies the fireplace with oxygen. These fireplaces need a constant supply of oxygen, as this is necessary to keep the fire from going out. To facilitate this, the installation of a traditional fireplace will also involve installing a vent in an external wall in your home. This ensures that the room is consistently supplied with fresh air.
As they don’t have this requirement for oxygen, it isn’t necessary to install a vent when installing an electric fireplace. With that said, you still need to make sure that the fireplace has enough space on all sides to enable proper air circulation and to prevent it from overheating.